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Epic challenge of Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse

Allan, Voyce, Ussher up for epic challenge of Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse

Wanaka is a mighty long haul from Waikaremoana. But Southerner Dougal Allan reckons it’ll be well worth the journey to race his first Genesis Energy Lake to Lighthouse Challenge in inland Hawke’s Bay.

“Athletes that have competed in the past simply rave about their experience. It seems that anyone that has done some or all of the Lake to Lighthouse has come away with great enthusiasm for the event and its location,” enthuses the two-time Coast to Coast longest day runner up.

“Luckily I have heard from many that the run on day one is brutal. At least with this knowledge I can take a sensible approach!”

The Lake to Lighthouse starts in the tiny settlement of Tuai, near Lake Waikaremoana. The race, which welcomes many teams as well as individual athletes, takes in two days of sensational running, mountain biking and kayaking (note the date is now 18-20 November 2011).

Goals? Allan says simply: “I do hope to be competitive with the fastest individuals”. That expectation adds further depth to a men’s field that’s by far the strongest since the Lake to Lighthouse began back in 2008.

Amongst Allan’s key opposition will be Nelson’s Trevor Voyce, who was second last year; top Australian multisport athlete Jarad Kohlar; Whakatane’s Sam Clark, who was third last year; and three-time winner Richard Ussher, also of Nelson.

For all but Kohlar, there’s added excitement in that they’ll have confronted one another in Opotiki’s Motu Challenge five weeks earlier: Lake to Lighthouse will be something of the Bay revenge match.

Ussher’s main springtime focus will be the Xterra Worlds in Maui, with other races slotting in around that. But he issued a friendly warning to his rivals for both Lake to Lighthouse and October’s Motu: “I still plan to make it as hard as I can for the others to get a win!”

One day soon, Ussher will be beaten. Who knows whether it’ll be Motu or Lake to Lighthouse, or neither, or even both. Fact is, though, Lake to Lighthouse is gearing up to be a sensational 12-14 hours of racing (for the sharper end of the race).

The lean Voyce impressed last year with his running legs. He’ll be well prepared to do the same this year, as he’s racing the Wulong Quest adventure race in China (wwwwulongquest.com) in a team with Richard and Elina Ussher, and Nathan Fa’avae. Then Voyce will line up for Anaconda WA (www.rapidascent.com.au).

“I did some longish 3-4 hour runs for last year’s race but with Anaconda two weeks out from the race this year, I may have to sacrifice some longer runs for speed work and see how it works,” Voyce said. “It’s definitely a tough and long run — but stunning.”

“My main goal for this year is to be better in both mountain bike stages, particularly for the day two mountain bike which punished me last year.”

Kohlar rolled up to Waikaremoana in 2010 confident of doing well, but was humbled by the sheer length and difficulty of the run, fading well down the field, though still finishing. In 2011, he’s aiming “to overcome some demons on that 46 km run, I will own that trail this year!”

“I would like to push the pace on the first day and hope I can be more competitive over the two days of racing.” He’s also looking forward to the race experience: “I think it’s one of the most professional, scenic, competitive and tough events you can do in New Zealand”.

Kohlar will also be taking on Anaconda and Wulong: it’s a small world, multisport.

The Lake to Lighthouse weekend will include two new options for 2011, catering for those who are not amongst the multisport elite. The 42 km Waikaremoana Classic and 30 km Duathlon will be held on 19 November 2011. Both are open to individuals and relay teams, with age group and iwi categories.

“We believe the Waikaremoana Classic and Duathlon will open up multisport to many more, with options for anyone with a basic level of fitness and entry fees starting from $45 per team member,” says race director Chris Joblin.

The elite men are all chomping at the bit to test themselves around the lake, and down to Wairoa. That said, their comments suggest they also base themselves in their own multisport nirvana.

Here’s Voyce: “We are spoilt here in Nelson. But during winter it’s always good to get into the snow. Yesterday I was on the mountain bike near Mt Arthur riding on four inches of snow - fantastic!”

And Allan: “I would never dream of living anywhere other than my adopted hometown of Wanaka. I feel I have it all down here from pristine waters of Lake Wanaka and the Clutha River, to the running and mountain bike opportunities that seem endless in the surrounding hill country.”

There’s no snow for Kohlar, but the Australian reckons “I’m loving the bikram yoga and local MTB Smith Gully trails”.

Get full information and enter at www.laketolighthouse.co.nz


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